Latest News

Amazon and Think Tanks Launch Group Advocating for Power Flux Density Changes

By Rachel Jewett | October 31, 2023

      Via Satellite illustration.

      Amazon and a number of think tanks have launched a new advocacy group called the Alliance for Satellite Broadband to push for an update to the rules around satellite power limits at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23). 

      Amazon along with fellow members — International Center for Law & Economics, the Open Technology Institute at New America, and the Digital First Project — announced the group on Tuesday. 

      The group specifically asks Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to commit to studying what is called equivalent power flux-density (EPFD). This is defined as a calculation of how powerful a radio signal should be as it reaches an area on the surface of the Earth based on the distance from a transmitter. These limits control the amount of power and other mitigation techniques NGSO systems must implement in order to not cause interference into Geosynchronous Orbit (GSO) networks.

      The Alliance argues the current rules reduce the availability of Non-Geostationary (NGSO) satellite systems and increase the cost of broadband service provided by NGSO satellites. The group’s FAQ claims that technical studies show that the current limits go beyond what is necessary to protect GSO systems with no benefit to GSO operations, while they “directly limit NGSO operations at the expense of communities who need broadband access.”

      It is asking delegates to adopt a future agenda item that would commit the members of the ITU to studying and potentially updating the EPFD rules.

      Julie Zoller, head of Global Regulatory Affairs for Amazon’s Project Kuiper, said EPFD limits were created nearly 25 years ago, when NGSO technology was new. While satellite technology and spectrum management have changed, the rules have not. 

      “These outdated limits constrain non-GSO systems beyond what is necessary to protect GSO networks from interference, inhibiting capacity and affordability for customers. It’s time for the ITU to embrace a new generation of connectivity and support smart, updated regulations,” Zoller said.